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Oct. 26, Sun.*This program was first broadcast on Dec. 6, 2012


One of life's essential tools is a pair of scissors. Scissors were first created in Europe and reached Japan in the 6th century. Japan has scissors for making kimonos and for preparing sweets. It has pruning shears that make a distinctive clack and scissors that help the world's hairstylists snip with style. Japan also makes fabric shears forged like samurai swords. One of their best-known creators was a former swordsmith who found himself out of a job at the end of the samurai era and applied his specialized skills to making scissors. Scissors can even be used for entertainment. There is a form of Japanese vaudeville in which a performer cuts out a picture of whatever the audience requests. It's improvised on the fly, and it's a wonder to behold.

On this edition of BEGIN Japanology, our theme is scissors, an everyday tool that offers insights into Japanese culture.